This is the busiest mailing day for the United States Postal Service, according to spokesman Sam Bolen.
"December the 18th is our suggested deadline for First Class mail and we expect about 900 million pieces will be processed on average and maybe more on that particular day. That's our largest day, so that's when we recommend shifting to our Priority Mail service. And then a couple days getting closer to Christmas we suggest that you go exclusively with our Express Mail service which is delivered on Christmas Day in most major markets. And the Express Mail is definitely the only way to go in the final week before Christmas if you're sending packages overseas and you go to the Post Office you need to double-check with your retail associate and make sure that particular country has that service available."
And Wednesday is the busiest day for UPS, when the company will handle more than 21 million packages worldwide, according to UPS spokesman Steven Boggs.
"Most of the packages using our Ground Service can take between one to three days for delivery, but it depends on where you're shipping from and where the package is going to. so prior to shipping customers can check how long their packages will take to reach their destination by using UPS's Time and Transit Calculator on ups.com. And you know, for the procrastinators out there, UPS will accept packages for delivery by Christmas as late as December 21st, but that's one of our premium services and will cost a little bit more."
Managing your shipping online is something that UPS recommends highly.
"You can make sure that you know where it's at at all times. We can basically have a, set up a service called Quantum View Notify, where it sends updated e-mails to either the recipient or the sender so they know where the package is and when they should expect it. So, we've made some Web-enabled shipping tools that help both businesses and consumers reduce their holiday stress."
The Postal Service also utilizes an interactive Web site.
"Yeah, you can go to usps.com and go to our Click and Ship page and actually now on our home page we have a link down there, it's Holiday Postage, and you can create your own postage if you want to. We have a click and Ship service which yuo can use your credit card and you can actually print the postage label to put on your box. Goin on the computer and you can arrange for a carrier to come to your home or business and pick up your package, so it eliminates virftually the trip to the post office altogether."
According to a 2005 survey commissioned by UPS, 80 percent of online shoppers said a positive delivery experience would cause them to likely purchase from that online retailer again. Ed Mayberry, Houston Public Radio News.